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Personal Qualities of a Neurosurgeon

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The job of a neurosurgeon is highly demanding and typically requires over a decade of full-time study after high school. Only individuals with a certain set of skills and personal qualities should consider a career as a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons often work long hours, performing highly detailed procedures that can mean the difference between life and death for their patients. Take plenty of time to decide if this is the right career for you before you embark on the long journey to becoming a neurosurgeon.

Ability To Work In A Team

Neurosurgeons work closely with other medical professionals, both inside and outside the operating room. The ability to work in a team, therefore, is one of the most important personal qualities of a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons must be able to give and follow directions, stay calm under pressure, give positive feedback to less experienced members of the team and generally make team members feel like their efforts are valued. Neurosurgeons need to be good listeners with the ability to make compromises. A surgical team must work like a well oiled machine, with each individual lending their skills and contributing to the success of the operation.

Communication Skills

Neurosurgeons need outstanding communication skills, both written and spoken. The ability to speak clearly and directly is extremely important in the operating room, as you’ll be telling a team of surgeons what to do. This skill also comes in handy when explaining the operating procedures to patients, consulting with patients about their health and meeting with other medical professionals. Accomplished neurosurgeons sometimes publish their research findings in medical journals, so writing skills are also important. They may help write medical textbooks or other academic documents as well.

Passion and Commitment

Neurosurgeons need to be totally committed to their career. Neurosurgery must be their passion and helping people the reason the get up in the morning. This career requires long hours working in an intense environment, so neurosurgeons really need to love what they do. Most neurosurgeons spend over 10 years studying, so they need to be able to commit a lot of time and money to their life’s work. This is a job for individuals committed to a lifetime of learning. Most states require neurosurgeons to take continuing education classes throughout their career in order to stay licensed. Successful neurosurgeons are constantly learning about new advances in the field by reading medical journals, attending conferences and seminars.

Physical Qualities

Physical stamina is important for neurosurgeons, who must be able to spend many hours working on their feet. Operations often start at the crack of dawn and last all day. Those with low energy or physical ailments that would prevent them from completing the job should think twice about becoming neurosurgeons. Neurosurgeons also need excellent manual dexterity and vision to be able to perform the tiny, detailed procedures of a neurological operation.


Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.

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